Langley sees influx of ‘passport tourists’ from the mainland

It will take about 10-12 weeks to process all the applications, which is a little slower than usual.

People visiting the Village by the Sea aren’t just there for the oysters and spectacular views anymore.

According to city officials, Langley has also become the spot for visitors to get their passports processed because of a shortage of appointments available at the agencies on the mainland.

Bob Herzberg, the city’s passport agent and former police chief, said that although he has about half as many appointments every week than he used to, he is seeing more families coming from more populated counties.

Just the previous week, Herzberg said, he had an appointment with a family of four from Bothell who were unable to book an appointment in the Seattle metropolitan area.

The passport seekers often decide to “make a day of it” and visit the surrounding businesses and sights, Herzberg said.

Herzberg has about six appointments every week, which he schedules on Thursdays. He is currently booked out about two to three weeks because of the high demand.

Langley City Hall is one of three passport agencies in Island County, and the only one on South Whidbey.

The other two, a post office and senior center, are located in Oak Harbor.

Herzberg, who retired as Langley’s police chief, said he has been reviewing passport applications for the past seven years since he transitioned to part-time work with the city.

Langley City Hall’s passport office did shut down for a few months because of the pandemic, but during the months since reopening it has been assisting more off-island passport-seekers than Herzberg has seen before.

It may seem odd that people are applying for passports during a pandemic, but Herzberg said some are needed for business-related travel and others are planning their vacations for next summer.

Processing times are also a little slower than usual and, on average, a passport is taking 10 to 12 weeks to process.

Herzberg said he is recommending that people also get a passport card with their passport because the requirements for flight travel will be changing on Oct. 1, 2021.

According to the Transportation Security Agency, starting on that date, every traveler must present a driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license or other acceptable forms of identification, such as a valid passport or U.S. military ID, to fly within the United States.